Madison, Wi

Vice President - Education Philanthropy, Ascendium Education Group, Inc.

The Organization

About Ascendium 

Ascendium is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that has helped millions of learners pursue postsecondary education since 1967, when we were formed to help fulfill the promise of the landmark Higher Education Act of 1965. Over the years, we’ve grown to become the nation’s largest federal student loan guarantor, providing information, tools and counseling to help millions of borrowers nationwide avoid default and keep the door to reenrollment open. Using our years of experience in the student loan industry, we’ve developed a suite of products and services that support academic achievement, financial wellness and student loan repayment success.

We use the net proceeds from our business operations to fund our philanthropy. Our philanthropy team includes program, grants management and learning and impact professionals who all share a commitment to advancing our philanthropic mission of elevating opportunities for learners from low-income backgrounds so they can achieve academic and career success. Our grantmaking works to transform postsecondary education and workforce training systems to support low-income populations, especially those in historically underrepresented groups, including first-generation students, incarcerated adults, rural community members, students of color and veterans. Currently, our philanthropy focuses on removing structural barriers to success, streamlining key learner transitions, expanding postsecondary education in prison and supporting rural postsecondary education and workforce training. Across these four focus areas, our funding supports innovative ideas, the creation of an evidence base and the expansion and replication of effective practices.

Position Overview

Are you passionate about transforming lives through postsecondary education and workforce training? Do you have extensive philanthropic experience? Ascendium is looking for a Vice President – Education Philanthropy to lead a team of dedicated and knowledgeable professionals in implementing large-scale, strategic grantmaking that leads to lasting change in postsecondary education and workforce training institutions and systems. Our philanthropy focuses on helping students from low-income backgrounds achieve their academic and career goals and experience increased upward mobility. As Vice President – Education Philanthropy, you’ll oversee an annual grantmaking budget of over $100 million, develop innovative and impactful grantmaking strategies, serve as a vital advisor to Ascendium’s Chairman, President & CEO, continue to position Ascendium as a thought leader and more.

You’ll be based out of our headquarters in Madison, Wisconsin, and have opportunities to travel to and participate in conferences, partner events and other forums.

Job Responsibilities 

Your priorities will be to:

  • Oversee the development of board-reviewed grant recommendations to ensure they align with our strategy and adhere to our policies and procedures.
  • With Ascendium’s leadership team, develop annual objectives and key results to advance our philanthropic mission.
  • Develop and manage the annual education philanthropy budget.
  • Oversee the development of grantmaking strategies that embed diversity, equity and inclusion best practices.
  • Oversee the deployment of learning and impact practices that assess and refine our work methods.
  • Oversee the continuous refinement of grants management systems to ensure efficiency, grantee satisfaction and compliance with policies and procedures.
  • Oversee education philanthropy’s recruitment, hiring and training processes.
  • Provide direction, mentoring and support to the leadership team in a way that results in a high-performing team culture.
  • With Ascendium’s leadership team, oversee the implementation of employee growth and professional development, including quarterly staff retreats.
  • In collaboration with the vice president – strategic communications, oversee communications strategies and initiatives to both position us as a thought leader and highlight our grantmaking internally and externally.
  • Develop relationships and partnerships with postsecondary education and workforce training providers, intermediaries, researchers, funders and governmental and private sector partners.
  • Identify and develop opportunities to convene grantees, funders and other stakeholders to support learning and field building.
  • Perform other related duties as assigned.

Knowledge and Skill Requirements

A highly qualified candidate will possess the following.

  • Knowledge or experience equivalent to a bachelor’s degree in philanthropy, social sciences, education, business or a related field.
  • 10-15 years of progressive experience in grantmaking and/or experience with best practices that increase postsecondary degree or credential completion and improve economic mobility.
  • Experience developing and overseeing the operationalization of a strategic plan using data from previous grantmaking, field information and annual budget and staffing plans.
  • Knowledge of postsecondary education and workforce training providers, including postsecondary institutions, training providers, intermediaries, researchers, policy makers and funders.
  • Ability to think strategically and operationally.
  • Ability to manage and support the growth and development of a team of professionals.
  • Ability to develop and maintain strong working relationships with and among a diverse group of stakeholders.
  • A demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills that are adaptable to a wide range of audiences.

Other Information

Ascendium offers an outstanding benefits package designed to provide employees and their families with a high degree of security. These benefits include, but are not limited to:

  • Comprehensive medical, dental and vision insurance.
  • Generous time off, including up to eight weeks of paid parental leave.
  • Paid volunteer time off.

Ascendium provides equal employment opportunity to all individuals regardless of their race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, creed, disability, veteran status or any other characteristic protected by state or federal law. We are strongly committed to this policy and believe in the concept and spirit of the law.

If you would like assistance with the application process, please email Ascendium Human Resources. We invite all applicants to complete the Voluntary Affirmative Action questions when submitting application materials. The questions are found at the end of the online application process. To learn more about our commitment to Equal Employment Opportunity, please visit the Ascendium Careers webpage.

Ascendium requires criminal, employment and education background investigations before hiring.

  • Effective interpersonal skills exemplified by initiative, courtesy, diplomacy, positivity and professionalism.
  • Comfort with ambiguity and the ability to adapt to a fast-paced, continually evolving work environment.

How To Apply

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